‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ TV Review: A Fresh Adaptation Of A Beloved Classic
On June 3, the long-awaited adaptation of Ann M. Martin‘s classic series of children’s novels, The Baby-Sitters Club, was released online as a 10-part series. Since then, the Netflix original has received nearly unanimous praise on multiple accounts. The series’ heartwarming storyline, realistic depiction of teenage characters and delicate handling of serious issues such as divorce, parental death and discrimination against transgender children has won the BSC a dedicated fan base of all ages.
Creator Rachel Shukert – whose previous TV credits include Supergirl and GLOW – revamps the original novels for the 21st century without sacrificing any of their vintage allure. Although modernized, the series remains almost entirely faithful to its source text, addressing the timeless challenges of adolescent friendship. Under Shukert’s guidance, main actresses Sophie Grace (Kristy), Malia Baker (Mary Anne), Momona Tamada (Claudia), Shay Rudolph (Stacey) and Xochitl Gomez (Dawn) shine as five best friends with one shared goal: to operate the best babysitting business in the fictional town of Stoneybrook, Connecticut. Even equipped with the latest technology and pop culture references, the sitters are still the same, unique young women at the heart of Martin’s novels.
Tamada is particularly compelling in her role as Claudia Kishi, the most creative and stylish member of the club. She is the one who purchases the group’s iconic landline telephone on Etsy, a prop which manages to be both genuinely nostalgic and evocative of modern, 90s-core aesthetic. Other standout actors include Kai Shappley (Bailey) and Takayo Fischer (Mimi), both of whom are involved in the series’ most overtly political storylines. In episode four, Shappley portrays a young transgender girl who is misgendered by her doctors, prompting her babysitter to speak up on her behalf. Fischer has a recurring role as Claudia’s grandmother Mimi, who is revealed to be a survivor of Japanese internment in episode six. Mimi’s story inspires Claudia to continue creating art, especially about her Japanese American heritage.
Besides the occasional cheesy moment, The Baby-Sitters Club is one of the best original series to come out of Netflix in a long time – a feat which is all the more impressive as a page-to-screen adaptation. Hopefully, the inevitable second season will continue to strike a chord.